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Fake trade: Mike Napoli to Texas for Frank Francisco

Apr 15, 2010, 6:20 PM EDT

Rangers acquire C Mike Napoli from the Angels for RHP Frank Francisco and RHP Brandon McCarthy
Why it works for Texas: The Rangers were thought to have an embarrassment of riches behind the plate a couple of years ago, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia hasn’t hit or remained healthy and Taylor Teagarden has been a strikeout machine. They can and likely will stick with the pair and hope for the best. Napoli, though, would give them another big-time power threat for the bottom third of their order. One of the game’s five-best offensive catchers, he’s a career .255/.356/.490 hitter in 1,105 at-bats. Also, this wouldn’t add to the payroll of a team that probably can’t take on any money until Tom Hicks’ sale goes through. Napoli is making $3.6 million this year, compared to $3.265 million for Francisco and $1.3 million for McCarthy.
Why it works for Los Angeles: Despite Napoli’s huge advantage offensively, Angels manager Mike Scioscia thinks his team is better with Jeff Mathis behind the plate. Also, the Angels like Bobby Wilson, who has stuck on the roster as a seldom-used third catcher because he’s out of options. In Francisco, the Angels would get a third closer-type reliever and one who is more dominant than either Brian Fuentes or Fernando Rodney when he’s on. While he’s off to a rough start right now, Francisco was 25-for-29 saving games last year and he limited hitters to a .200 average in 2008 and a .214 mark last season. McCarthy could also be of real use to a team that lacks pitching depth. Like the Rangers have done, the Angels could stash him away in Triple-A until they need another starter. Matt Palmer just isn’t likely to prove to be an adequate fallback again, and the Angels can’t expect Scott Kazmir or Ervin Santana to throw 200 innings.
Why it won’t happen: Obviously, neither the Angels nor the Rangers is going to want to risk helping the other in a year in which both are aiming to take the AL West. That’s the only reason that matters. The Angels, though, might be able to do better for Napoli if they put him on the open market. I still think Francisco could be one of the AL’s better relievers this year, but he has a history of getting hurt. Also, he’s in his walk year, whereas Napoli won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2012.

  1. Spokes - Apr 15, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    Why would the Angels want to trade a 20-homer catcher who is under contract for two more seasons for a risky reliever who is a free agent in six months when they already have not only Rodney and Fuentes, but Kevin Jepsen and (maybe) Scot Shields?
    The Angels may like Mathis more, but he still has to prove he can hit at the major league level. Until then, Napoli has to stick around.

  2. Bobomo - Apr 15, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    The Mike Scioscia-Jeff Mathis love affair remains eternally baffling to me. Whatever advantages Mathis may have over Napoli in the defensive category (and they are slim by most objective measurements) are completely obliterated by Napoli’s bat. And it’s not even close. We’re talking about a career Mendoza-line hitter, who’s been stinking up the batter’s box since day 1. In fact, we never would have heard of Napoli had Mathis not so convincingly fallen on his face when he was handed the starting gig in ’06.
    I understand Mike has “his guys” – Robb Quinlan and Reggie Willits would be t-shirt cannon operators on 29 other clubs – but to so blatantly waste an extremely valuable player in favor of “intangibles” takes it to another level.

  3. t ball - Apr 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM

    Wow, I was just thinking this morning that Scioscia refuses to play Napoli, maybe TX should try to trade for him. I don’t think Francisco gets a deal done with less service time, shaky health and performance history.

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